The Jersey Barrier and City Schools

It was the day after Christmas, and I had to go to the Cherry Hill Mall for work. Traffic was minimal, a dream for most drivers, but still a nightmare for me. I missed my exit, which meant a couple extra miles of staring at those ugly Jersey highway barriers. Where is a gently landscaped median when you need one?

If our family were to move for schools, Haddonfield, with its porches and restaurants that you can walk to, would be high on the list of possible new locations. But crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge daily, enduring traffic, and staring at those repugnant Jersey barriers (no wonder so many mobsters made their homes in the Garden State; it's so easy to find something heavy to tie around someone's feet) might quickly dilute Haddonfield's charm.

Yes, I know there is PATCO, but my work hours do not make that option inviting, and I'd still be stuck on Jersey highways just to run errands. So I began wondering: "Would I choose a Philly public school, despite worries that it might be a subpar education, to avoid an ugly commute?"

Uh, possibly, yes. That answer led to a flood of thoughts that I was a subpar mother, unable to put my son's needs above my own.

Of course, the real answer is no, and the real problem is the "might" in the question. Are Philly public schools subpar or not? If they are, will big repair efforts by parents make them good enough?

Obviously, the district overall is an education disaster, but many people say it still has some good schools. When I've visited some schools, they often offer much more than I realized. Bache-Martin Elementary, for example, has violin for kindergardeners. Chester A. Arthur has a theater program.

Maybe the blessing of the Jersey Barrier is that it helps people see the rest of the world more clearly.